Um Girassol Nos Teus Cabelos (A Sunflower in Your Hair)

Listen to the Poem in Portuguese

Kátia Borges Read by Gabriela Jatene

Listen to the Poem in English

Kátia Borges Read by Gabriela Jatene

Kátia Borges – Original Text (2018)

Março desaba sobre nós – golpe* de chuva

que encerra outro verão de sonho e fúria.

Carregaremos março em nossa voz,
com seu peso de luto e armadilha,
com seu signo de fogo e súcia.

Diapasão que desregula toda música,
essa dor que nos lega teu silêncio sentencia
que abril não chegue nunca.

Provisoriamente, Carlos*, não cantaremos o amor.

Entregues ao pasmo desse mês suspenso,
cantaremos março – e esse calendário
que arde em sangue.
Entregues à revolta desse mês suspenso,
cantaremos março – e os oito tiros
que atravessaram a noite.

E, no estribilho da canção presente, o teu nome.

Março desaba sobre nós – golpe de chuva

Soldiers of that time commonly wore a white head cloth, similar to what is still worn by some peasants in China today.  The implication is that the conscripts were so young that they didn’t know how to wrap their head cloths, and needed help from elders.

English Translation by David Treece*

March comes crashing down on us – beating rain
that ends another summer of dreaming and rage.

We carry March in our voices,
with its burden of grief and entrapment,
with its sign of fire and motley crew.

A tuning-fork that upsets every tune,
the pain your silence bequeaths to us
decrees that April will never come.

Just for now, Carlos, we shall not sing of love.

Gripped by the astonishment of this month hanging in the air,
we shall sing of March – and this calendar
that aches in blood.
Gripped by the outrage of this month hanging in the air,
we shall sing of March – and the eight shots
that rang across that night.

And, in this song’s refrain here and now, your name.

*translation adapted by Gabriela Jatene

Translation Notes

*”golpe”: Treece translates “golpe” as “beating”, which is correct, however misses the secondary meaning of the word: “coup”.

*”Carlos”: The “Carlos” referred to in the poem is most likely Carlos Bolsonaro, a politician from Rio de Janeiro and the second son of Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s current president. His and his father’s involvement in Marielle’s murder has been questioned and investigated.

Author Notes

Kátia Borges is a Brazilian journalist and author who lives in Salvador, the capital of Bahia. She writes for the Brazilian newspaper Correio and teaches journalism at the Universidade Salvador (University of Salvador).

Historical Context

This poem by Kátia Borges is part of an anthology, published in 2018, in honor of Marielle Franco. The poem itself is unnamed, and it is the anthology that is called A Sunflower in Your Hair. Marielle Franco was born in 1979 in a favela in Rio de Janeiro. She was a bisexual Black woman, an activist, and a politician, as well as a wife and mother. On March 14 2018, at 38 years old, Marielle was brutally assassinated. While in a car after delivering a speech, Franco and her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, were shot multiple times. Both were killed in the attack.

Marielle was elected as a city council member in 2016 with over 46,500 votes, and served from January 2017 until her untimely death. As a city council member, she fought for LGBTQI+ rights, gender equality (including reproductive rights), and the rights of individuals in Rio de Janeiro’s large favela population. Franco had been an outspoken critic of police brutality and extrajudicial killings, both common in Rio de Janeiro’s many favelas.

Marielle’s assassination led to widespread outrage and protests worldwide. For too long, her killer was unknown and investigations were drawn out. Many in power (both political and financial) were threatened by what she stood for. Three years have gone by since her brutal murder, and although it is now known that a retired policeman was responsible for her assassination, the individual(s) who requested it are still unknown.

Sources

Galvão, Demetrios. “3 Crônicas De Kátia Borges.” Revista Acrobata, 4 Mar. 2021,
https://revistaacrobata.com.br/demetrios/conto/3-cronicas-de-katia-borges/.

Garayo Willemyns, Julia. “’A Sunflower in Your Hair – Poems for Marielle Franco’: Pain, Revolt and a Call to Action.” Sounds and Colours, 13 Mar. 2021,
https://soundsandcolours.com/articles/brazil/a-sunflower-in-your-hair-poems-for-marielle-franco-pain-revolt-and-a-call-to-action-58984/.

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Fanni is Radnóti's wife
Located near the Tang capital city of Chang’an, site of the modern city of Xi’an in Shaanxi province, in central China.
Before China’s unification under the Qin dynasty in 221 B.C. there were several competing smaller kingdoms.  Han and Qin were two of these kingdoms. Han was located east of famous mountain passes that separated that area from the power base of the Qin dynasty, with its capital in Chang’an. The Qin dynasty itself only lasted about 15 years after unification due to its draconian rule, but soldiers under Qin rule retained a reputation as strong fighters.
The area of Guanxi, meaning “west of the passes”, refers to the area around the capital city of Chang’an.
This is an alternative name for a province in western China, now known as Qinghai, which literally means “blue sea”.  Kokonor Lake, located in Qinghai, is the largest saline lake in China.  
Before China’s unification under the Qin dynasty in 221 B.C. there were several competing smaller kingdoms.  Han and Qin were two of these kingdoms. Han was located east of famous mountain passes that separated that area from the power base of the Qin dynasty, with its capital in Chang’an. The Qin dynasty itself only lasted about 15 years after unification due to its draconian rule, but soldiers under Qin rule retained a reputation as strong fighters.
Oulart Hollow was the site of a famous victory of the Irish rebels over British troops, which took place on May 27, 1798. The rebels killed nearly all the British attackers in this battle. (Source: Maxwell, W. H. History of the Irish Rebellion in 1798. H. H. Bohn, London 1854, pp 92-93, at archive.org)
The phrase "United Men" is elaborated upon in the Notes section below.

Ghetto


An Italian word meaning “foundry.” It originally referred to a part of the city of Venice where the Jews of that city were forced to live; the area was called “the ghetto” because there was a foundry nearby. The term eventually came to refer to any part of a city in which a minority group is forced to live as a result of social, legal, or economic pressure. Because of the restrictions placed upon them, ghetto residents are often impoverished.

"You’re five nine, I am do-uble two"


A reference to the year 1959 and the year 2020.

"The Currency"


Meaning US dollars - this is drawing attention to the fact that Cuba is effectively dollarized.

"Sixty years with the dom-ino stuck"


This sentence is a reference to the Cold War notion that countries would turn Communist one after the other - like dominos. Cuba was the first domino, but it got stuck - no one else followed through into communism.

رحلنا


رحلنا, or "rahalna," means "we have left."

Habibi


Habibi means "my love."

Ra7eel


Ra7eel, or "raheel," means "departure."

3awda


3awda, or "awda," means "returning."

أهلاً


أهلاً, or "ahalan," means "welcome."

a5 ya baba


a5 ya baba, pronounced "akh ya baba," means "Oh my father."

golpe


Treece translates "golpe" as "beating", which is correct, however misses the secondary meaning of the word: "coup".

Carlos


The “Carlos” referred to in the poem is most likely Carlos Bolsonaro, a politician from Rio de Janeiro and the second son of Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s current president. His and his father’s involvement in Marielle’s murder has been questioned and investigated.